The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

NOAA snow and ice Web site down for 9 days and counting

Update, 9:31 a.m., Wednesday: Although the National Ice Center Web site contains a giant message stating “Site is down due to unscheduled maintenance”, data products appear to current and updating – signaling the end of the outage.

Update, 8:52 a.m, Wednesday: The National Ice Center Web site remains down, for a 9th consecutive day.  “NOAA is working to address any web site disruptions,” said John Leslie, a NOAA spokesperson. “We are directing users to contact our Help Desk to assist with any user access concerns.”

The snow cover data feed used by Rutgers Global Snow Lab appears to have been restored.

Original post, from 1:21 p.m. Tuesday

For more than a week, NOAA’s National Ice Center Web site and related data feeds have been down, cutting off access to snow and ice information important for weather forecasters, researchers and other interests.

The non-operational Web site is linked to a system outage that stopped the flow of various types of NOAA satellite data early last week, which NOAA officials said was due to “unscheduled maintenance”.

The National Ice Center (NIC) Web site, while hosted on NOAA web servers, is also supported by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard through a partnership. The military’s participation is related to its interest in maintaining navigation safety, which ice conditions can impact. “NIC is the only agency in the world that monitors and analyzes ice conditions across the entire globe,” describes a NOAA Web site.

The system outage, which affected international weather forecast models and the availability of NOAA satellite imagery for two days, was largely contained by Friday of last week – when most data flow was restored.  However, the National Ice Center Web site and related data feeds stopped functioning on Monday, October 20 and remain down.

“It’s very disruptive for me,” said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), who relies on information about Northern Hemisphere snow cover for preparing his winter outlook for clients. “It would be nice if they [NOAA] put a message out there to say what the problem is… It’s a complete blackout.”

Related: Fall snow bonanza in North America and Siberia may portend brutal winter

Rutgers University Global Snow Lab Web site, which provides snow cover data and imagery on for researchers and forecasters, has not been able to update its products since October 20 due to the outage.

“[The outage] stopped our receipt of the daily information,” said David Robinson, director of Global Snow Lab. “As such we can’t produce our base maps and anomaly maps until we get the feed re-established.”

A message on the Global Snow Lab Web site dated October 20 reads: “NOTICE: Daily snow extent updates incomplete due to outage at National Ice Center []. Maps will be restored when data becomes available.”

As of the time of publication of this posting, NOAA had not responded to two requests for information regarding the status of the National Ice Center Web site and related data feeds.